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Eisenberg: The Breshad Perriman Story Isn't Over

Posted Nov 25, 2017

The Ravens deactivating their 2015 first-round pick could easily be misinterpreted. The move was designed to help him produce, not end his career as a Raven.

Like a lot of people, I was surprised by the Ravens’ decision to deactivate Breshad Perriman last Sunday in Green Bay, even though he was healthy and ready to play.

I knew the organization was disappointed in Perriman’s production this season, hoping for a lot more from him; I just didn’t think the coaches would resort to such an extreme measure to try to get him going.

Having said that, I understood entirely where they were coming from. It reminded me of a parenting decision, straight out of a how-to guidebook. If you’re using one method to try to produce a certain behavior and it’s not working, try another way.

The Ravens had offered Perriman steadfast support through this toughest of times for him, hoping the positivity and encouragement would help him take off, but he was still struggling, with just seven receptions on 26 targets through nine games. So the coaches tried a different “parenting” tactic, more of a tough-love maneuver.

Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh confirmed after the game that he hoped Perriman was angry about being a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. And Perriman admitted this week that, yes, he was not thrilled about it.

“It definitely will be used as motivation. Anytime you’re not out there, of course, it’s got to be some type of motivation,” he said.

Will it help prompt the desired results? We’ll see. Right now, it’s unclear how the Ravens plan to handle Perriman. It might be that he was deactivated just once. Or there could be a reprise.

Regardless, this story isn’t over. That needs to be stated. The fact that the Ravens sat him for a game doesn’t mean they’re finished trying to make him into the player they hoped he’d become when they made him their first-round draft pick in 2015.

That needs to be stated because deactivating him sends a strong message that could easily be misinterpreted.

Yes, of course, it’s a punishment of sorts, but it’s also a strategy aimed at getting more out of him going forward. That is what the Ravens want.

I’m sure Perriman will play again this season, perhaps a lot, and he’ll still be on the roster next year; he’s under contract through 2018 and the Ravens aren’t going to give up on a former high pick who, remember, has played in a grand total of 24 NFL games.

At this point, he’s the easiest of punching bags to batter. He didn’t play as a rookie in 2015 because of a knee injury, then had just a so-so season in 2016. Now, with the team anxious for him to start carrying a heavier load, he is barely registering as a factor.

Yet despite all that, it’s easy to build a case for continuing to keep his window of opportunity open. No one in the Ravens’ passing offense, currently ranked No. 31 in the league, is the least bit happy about his season right now. All of the top receivers’ numbers are down, as are Joe Flacco’s key metrics.

When Chris Moore replaced Perriman as the No. 3 receiver Sunday in Green Bay, he played 33 snaps without having one pass thrown his way.

I’m not sure what to read into that, but it hints at the possibility that Perriman’s struggles, while certainly of his own making for the most part, might be at least somewhat attributable to a broader state of affairs involving the struggling passing game.

Would Perriman’s numbers be so low if he played on a team with a more productive passing game? If anything, it’s a fair question.

But of course, it’s just a theoretical question, and the reality is Perriman plays for the Ravens, who are trying to help him realize more of the potential everyone sees.

“I do believe in Breshad. I do believe he’s going to play well,” Harbaugh said earlier this week. “He’ll be back up as soon as it makes the most sense for us to win the game and it could be this week.”

That doesn’t sound like the end of a story to me.

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